No OSHA Inspection Ever for Scrap Metal Plant, Scene of Fatal Accident

Leon Kaye | Wednesday September 10th, 2014 | 2 Comments
Recycling, OSHA, scrap metal recycling, workers protection, workplace safety, Illinois, Texas, Leon Kaye

Junked autos, part of the huge scrap metal recycling business in the U.S.

Scrap metal recycling is a US$50 billion business that as of 2013 employs over 150,000 people in the United States. While the slump in volatile metal prices caused revenues to plateau in 2013 after a prosperous few years, scrap metal recycling will long be profitable — especially when considering the fact 95 percent of cars eventually end up at a recycling facility. For this industry’s workers, however, with these jobs come risks.

A recent example is the death of a worker at an Illinois scrap metal recycling facility earlier this year. The company has now been fined US$470,000 by the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Organization (OSHA) for eight different violations, ranging from the lack of employee protection from hazards to even a complete failure to post signs pointing out dangerous equipment. Furthermore, the dearth of safety features at a metal shredder is what led to the employee’s arm to be trapped in a conveyor belt, which led to his death. What is most disturbing, however, is that OSHA had never inspected the facility, as noted in an interview on Think Progress.

But while this case makes it easy to highlight this one company and OSHA’s shortcomings, the reality is that the scrap metal sector is one of the more dangerous settings for American workers — and little is done to enforce safety protections for workers.

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Can the VC Community Disrupt Serial Incarceration?

| Tuesday September 9th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Defy Ventures graduates Coss Marte Lasyah Palmer and Jamel Graham speak on stage at SOCAP 2014

Defy Ventures graduates Coss Marte, Jamel Graham and Lasyah Palmer speak on stage at SOCAP 2014

There is nothing the startup community loves more than a good disruption. And what better to disrupt than the prison-industrial complex — after all, a staggering 100 million Americans have criminal records and keeping them locked up costs us $63.4 billion a year.

As of last October, the U.S. incarceration rate was 716 per 100,000 people. While the United States represents about 5 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Worse still, 76 percent are rearrested after release and of those 89 percent are unemployed at re-arrest. So, we see the connection between crime and poverty in action.

One former member of the investment community is turning to a uniquely American solution to solve the problem: entrepreneurship.

The formerly incarcerated are not without skills. Think about it: Drug sales require cash flow management, sales and marketing. Robberies — successful ones at least — require strategic planning. Catherine Hoke — who comes from the venture capital and private equity world — founded Defy Ventures in 2010 to show ex-convicts (she prefers the term “Entrepreneurs in Training” or EITs) how to use the skills they already have to develop legal businesses.

Hoke spoke at SOCAP 2014 about Defy Ventures’ model. The nonprofit provides training to EITs in skills like leadership, business plan development, finance, sales and marketing — and even things like etiquette: how to dress for a meeting and how to shake hands in a business setting. The program’s mentors and teachers include startup luminaries like Seth Godin and Tim Draper. As inspiring as the Defy Ventures story was, I was skeptical. How could 300 hours of training really disrupt a life, disrupt a community? After all, people have been trying to solve the cycle of urban poverty and prison for decades, and the number of people in prison just keeps increasing.

My skepticism vanished when I chatted with three Defy graduates about their experiences in the program.

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Intel: The Push to Stop Conflict Minerals is Gaining

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Tuesday September 9th, 2014 | 1 Comment

conflict_minerals_Wolframite_Mining_DRC_Julien_HarneisHuman rights activists have been waiting for at least a year to see the Department of Commerce’s breakdown of global conflict mining sites. Still, the department’s announcement last week that its data was, well, inconclusive, was no surprise.

In a 24-page report that was intended to address the whereabouts of conflict mineral mines and processing facilities, the DOC admitted that while it was able to supply a list of 400 operational sites throughout the world, its hands were tied when it came to determining certifiably which used slave or abusive labor in their camps.

“We do not have the ability to distinguish such facilities,” the DOC said matter-of-factly.

In 2010, the Dodd-Frank Act charged the DOC with the responsibility of identifying “all known conflict mineral processing facilities world-wide” and filing a report by January 2013, a deadline the DOC apparently wasn’t able to meet. And to its defense, the challenge of narrowing down where all gold, tungsten, tantalum and tin come from is formidable. Both the Garmin Corporation (which makes GPS equipment using mined substances) and U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness has weighed in on this requirement, with the latter questioning whether the Act actually helps or hinders human rights in repressed areas.

Still, the challenge hasn’t deterred some companies and agencies from trying to remove conflict minerals from the marketplace. The Intel Corp., which announced in January of this year that it would source all of its microprocessor materials from conflict-free zones, has now upped the ante. The company says that by 2016, it wants its supply chain to be completely conflict-mineral-free.

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Op/Ed on CSRwire: We Did Our Job, Time to Move On

3p Contributor | Tuesday September 9th, 2014 | 8 Comments

Ed Note: The following op/ed is from Joe Sibilia, former CEO of CSRwire, which was recently acquired by 3BLmedia.

CSRWire-logo-websiteBy Joe Sibilia

Like a flower that blooms and dies to seed new growth, CSRwire.com lived out its usefulness, spawning and raising awareness for innovative approaches to a new economy.   Our talented team has been seasoned by the dripping drama of a federal court case, driven by the challenges of a shifting media landscape, determined by detractors’ defilements and championing a new approach to business — an awesome effort.  With a full appreciation that the bloom was fading and the end was near, they extended the limits of their imagination, experimented and explored new boundaries.   It was time to move on and continue our experiment with innovating new ideas.

As we close the doors on a remarkable 15 years, there is a lot of history and achievements to remember and many organizations and individuals to appreciate.  Although this space is not big enough to recognize everyone, we’ll do our best to highlight many. 

It has been said that life is too short to learn from your own mistakes; we should learn from the experiences of others. Learn from our mistakes and benefit from our experiences.  This post will focus on appreciating our many friends and colleagues. My earlier post focused on sharing what we learned.  I hope to engage in further conversations.

Vice President of Partnerships Kristen Sibilia sums up the philosophy leading CSRwire best: “Business is personal, it’s family.”  We ask ourselves: “If we treat our business relationships like immediate family, would we act differently?”  We’ve treated our business partners as true family members. A lifetime indoctrination in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainable startups helped us remain critical and open to innovation. We appreciate all your efforts.

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Millennials Take On Monsanto

3p Contributor | Tuesday September 9th, 2014 | 26 Comments

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in “The Millennials Perspective” issue of Green Money JournalClick here to view more posts in this series.

johnroulacBy John Roulac

The issue of how we grow and process our food, while it’s always been important, is now a hot topic both at the kitchen table and on Wall Street. From the recent scandal about a chemical used in yoga mats being found in Subway bread to the rising awareness of genetically modified organisms GMOs and demands to label their presence in foods, the public is fast awakening to the need for safe, whole, natural nourishment.

In early May 2014, the stock price of Whole Foods Market dropped about 20 percent in 24 hours, based largely on fears that Walmart and other grocery giants will overtake its share of organic food sales. The number of equity funds looking to invest in the next Annie’s or Clif Bar is astounding. Astute investors now understand that food impacts not just waistlines but bottom lines.

The elephant in the room is that agriculture, not transportation, is globally the greatest contributor to greenhouse gases — an issue that gets glossed over by Al Gore and 350.org alike. The media, whether in the recent New York Times food reportage or in the May 2014 National Geographic cover story on “The New Food Revolution,” all fail to mention the three most pressing food issues: the climate change connection; the vast subsidies to corn, soy and wheat; and the massive increase in the use of Monsanto Roundup with its human health and ecosystem impacts.

Central to the conversation are the questions: How do we grow our food in a more sustainable way, and who decides? Should America lead the world in turning over our heritage of ancestral seeds to Monsanto or DuPont for them to patent as intellectual property? It’s becoming ever more widely known that each firm has a long history of making lethal war chemicals, creating toxic manufacturing sites that leak carcinogens into disadvantaged communities everywhere, and influencing the EPA, USDA, Congress and the White House so that decisions made — such as the Farmer Assurance Provision (widely called by its critics the “Monsanto Protection Act”) — favor biotech.

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5 Reasons You Should Become a Certified B Corp

Ryan Honeyman | Tuesday September 9th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This is the fifth in a weekly series of excerpts from the upcoming book The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, October 13, 2014). Click here to read the rest of the series.

community logo cloud 2014 copyBy Ryan Honeyman

There are many benefits to becoming a Certified B Corp.

B Corp certification sets you apart as a thought leader, distinguishes your business in a crowded market, and helps associate your brand with some of the most socially and environmentally responsible companies on the planet.

The particular benefits that are most attractive to you will vary depending on your industry, your goals and objectives, and where you are in the life cycle of your business (e.g., whether you are seeking capital, entering a new market or planning for succession).

I was most attracted to the quality of the community.

“For me, the biggest surprise in our long association with the B Corps has been the extraordinary value of our network of fellow B Corps and B Corp executives. The quality of that network has always been remarkable, and it has tangibly improved over time. We’re proud to be part of it.” —Bryan Welch, Publisher, Ogden Publications

When I found out that Dansko, King Arthur Flour, Method and Seventh Generation were Certified B Corporations, I had no doubt that I also was going to certify my company. I had found a group of like-minded, innovative and dynamic entrepreneurs who shared my core values. I had found my “tribe.”

I will discuss each of the five reasons in detail in the following weeks. For now, here is the first reason.

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Trans Energy to Restore Streams, Wetlands Damaged by Fracking

| Tuesday September 9th, 2014 | 14 Comments

AP394521466004_crop (1) From badly underestimated methane emissions and groundwater contamination to triggering earthquakes, the multiple human and environmental health threats posed by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) of shale deposits to release natural gas and petroleum have been well documented.

Negligence and shoddy practices by oil and gas companies exploring for natural gas and petroleum in tightly-packed shale deposits also threatens ecosystems, human health and safety, and critical natural resources on the surface – including precious freshwater resources.

On Sept. 2, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice announced a settlement with Trans Energy that requires the oil and gas company to restore streams and wetlands at 15 sites in West Virginia — across which it had allegedly discharged dredge or fill material without authorization. In addition to paying a $3 million penalty that is to be divided equally between the EPA and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP), it’s estimated that Trans Energy will spend over $13 million to complete stipulated environmental mitigation and restoration work.

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Shining Hot to Get It Cold: Unilever Tests Solar-Powered Freezers

Bill DiBenedetto | Tuesday September 9th, 2014 | 2 Comments

solar freezer_unileverYes, now you can grab an ice cold Popsicle on a hot sunny day while strolling through New York City’s Central Park — from a vendor using a solar-powered ice cream freezer.

The freezers being tested in Central Park operate free of electricity — vendors can even charge their own mobile devices by plugging them into outlets attached to the freezer units.

It seems fitting that Unilever, the world’s largest producer of ice cream, is rolling out the world’s first solar freezers in Central Park to keep those Popsicles, Good Humor or Magnum-brand bars cold while at the same time putting no strain on the environment.

Brandchannel reported the freezers are part of the company’s Sustainable Living Plan, which features a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from refrigeration. “It’s a strategic move for Unilever that already relies on more than two million POS freezers to reach consumers and may become the first commercially-viable solar freezer in the category,” contributor Sheila Shayon wrote.

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Kimberly-Clark Focuses on Sustainable Forestry in New CSR Report

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday September 9th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Kimberly-Clark Scott Naturals Tube-FreeKimberly-Clark produces mainly paper-based personal care products, including popular brands such as Cottonelle, so it’s only fitting that the global company focuses on sustainable forestry.

Its latest corporate social responsibility report lists short- and long-term goals to make its products more sustainably produced. One of the short-term goals is to source 100 percent of its wood fiber from suppliers who have achieved third-party certification by 2015. It has already achieved this goal. Two of K-C’s long term-goals also involve sustainable forestry, including obtaining 90 percent of the fiber in its tissue products from environmentally-preferred sources by 2025. At the end of 2013, K-C was at 71.1 percent. Second, the company planned to transition to at least 50 percent of wood fiber sourced from natural forests to alternative fiber sources by 2025. At the end of 2013, K-C achieved 24 percent reduction of fiber sourced from natural forest.

K-C states it will not knowingly use conflict wood, illegal fiber or fiber procured from special forest areas, including endangered forests. All K-C tissue mills in North America and about 50 percent of mills in other regions are chain-of-custody certified. The goal is to achieve 100 percent chain-of-custody certification for all of its mills by 2016.

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3p Traceability Week: Expert Panelists Answer Your Questions

Mary Mazzoni
| Monday September 8th, 2014 | 0 Comments

3p Traceability Week is now underway! Join Triple Pundit and a panel of experts to discuss traceability in four controversial arenas — Seafood, Fashion, Minerals and Medical Marijuana.  Ask your questions in the comments section, and follow along hereThe Q&A closes on Tuesday, September 16. 

ktc-globeAs economies become more globalized, supply chains become immeasurably more complex. A given product often travels thousands of miles before arriving on a store shelf, and ingredients or components within that product may hail from all over the world. So, how do we know if a product is safe for our families and aligns with our values? Was it produced in an environmentally preferable way that also benefited the person who made it, or are environmental and human rights problems lurking within its supply chain?

Join Triple Pundit and a panel of experts for 3p Traceability Week to discuss traceability in four controversial arenas — seafood, fashion, minerals and medical marijuana.

Our featured panelists are: 

Here’s how it works: Follow each conversation here. Start asking your questions in the comments section below each post, and our experts will be on-hand all week to answer them. Pretty simple, right?

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“Creating Resilient Cities” Google Hangout with Siemens and Arup

Marissa Rosen
| Monday September 8th, 2014 | 0 Comments

creating resilient cities graphic-1

Join TriplePundit on Wednesday, October 1st at 9:00am PST / 12:00pm EST for a Google Hangout on “Creating Resilient Cities!”

The world is rapidly urbanizing and the majority of the global population will experience the effects of climate change in urban cities. Yet while cities are vulnerable, they are also uniquely positioned to lead the efforts of mitigating and adopting to climate change. How do we ensure that our cities will remain attractive places for people and businesses against a backdrop of increasing climate risk? Join TriplePundit’s Founder, Nick Aster, live on Google’s hangout platform to discuss how cities may be able to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Our featured panelists are:

  • Michael Stevns, Project Manager of the Toolkit for Resilient Cities, Siemens
  • Stephen Cook, Associate Director, Energy and Climate Change Consulting, Arup

The conversation will cover how to future-proof our cities; resilience in the fields of technology, finance, and risk management; and global best practices for creating resilient cities.

Let us know you’re coming! RSVP HERE.

The event will stream live here and on Google on October 1st. We hope you’ll join us there!

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How Cities Can Battle Climate Change with Resiliency Planning

Bill DiBenedetto | Monday September 8th, 2014 | 7 Comments

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a short series on creating resilient cities, sponsored by Siemens. Please join us for a live Google Hangout with Siemens and Arup on October 1, where we’ll talk about this issue live! RSVP here.

coverpic_toolkitforresilient cities (640x348)Climate change is not going away, so cities large and small must adopt resilient and collaborative strategies not only to cope with the mounting risks they face, but also to survive. It’s no longer a matter of picking and choosing what piece of crumbling infrastructure to repair with scarce funds this year or next — the entire urban organism has to deal with rising waters, super storms, health and food security, air and surface pollution, and increasing numbers of residents.

The stakes are even higher as populations worldwide increasingly cluster around urban areas. “The world is undergoing the largest wave of urban growth in history,” says the United Nations Population Fund. In 2008, for the first time, more than half of the world’s population lived in towns and cities.

Cities are on the front line of the changing climate

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says in its findings on the implications of climate change for cities: “Urban centers account for more than half of the world’s population, most of its economic activity and the majority of energy-related emissions. The role of cities in reducing emissions and protecting their inhabitants is therefore central to effective climate policies,” IPCC concluded.

Many emerging climate change risks are concentrated in urban areas, and climate change impacts on cities are increasing, IPCC continued. Key issues include rising temperatures, heat stress, water security and pollution, sea-level rise and storm surges, extreme weather events, heavy rainfall and strong winds, inland flooding, food security, and ocean acidification.

Due to the growth in urban populations, the number of people exposed to climate change risk is increasing: “Rapid urbanization in low- and middle income countries has already increased the number of highly vulnerable urban communities living in informal settlements, many of which are at high risk from extreme weather events.”

On the flip side, rapidly developing cities in industrializing countries may also have the “greatest potential for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.” The problem is that many rapidly developing cities “lack the financial, technological, institutional and governance capacity required for effective mitigation,” IPCC said. That’s where the notion of resilience comes in big time, because “steps that build resilience and enable sustainable development in urban areas can accelerate successful climate change adaptation globally.” Resilient cities may be the solution. 

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Half a Million Homes and Businesses Now Powered By Solar

Mike Hower
| Monday September 8th, 2014 | 0 Comments

solar The U.S. solar market hit a major milestone in the second quarter of this year, with more than half a million homes and businesses now generating solar energy, according to a new report by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

According to the Q2 2014 U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, the United States installed 1,133 megawatts of solar photovoltaics (PV) in the second quarter of this year. The residential and commercial segments accounted for nearly half of all solar PV installations in the quarter.

The residential market has seen the most consistent growth of any segment for years and is expected to continue on its upward path. Across the U.S., cumulative PV and concentrating solar power (CSP) operating capacity has surpassed 15.9 gigawatts, enough to power more than 3.2 million homes.

This expansion of solar power also has been a boon to the economy, the report’s authors say. Today, the solar industry employs 143,000 Americans and pumps nearly $15 billion a year into the economy. Much of this can be credited to effective public policies, such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), net energy metering and renewable portfolio standards (RPS).

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Do ‘Clicktivism’ and the Online Petition Really Go Too Far?

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Monday September 8th, 2014 | 0 Comments

ChangeOrgClicktivism. It has a great ring to it, no? It says everything about our online culture these days where just about anything can be accomplished with enough single, willing clicks – including the viral success of an online petition.

Micah White, the well-known activist and former editor of Adbusters, first enlightened us to this issue in 2010 with his controversial article on the insidious petitions that are said to now populate the Internet. Petitions like that half-page appeal a friend sends you that urges more government money for Ebola treatment, or the letter demanding banks stop increased charges to checking accounts. For some, clicktivism represents a growing apathy in American social life — an erosion not only of activism, but of core values.

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Human Values and Corporate Social Impact: Learning and Foresight

3p Contributor | Monday September 8th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Editor’s Note: This is the final post in a six-part series examining the Supreme Court’s 2010 “Citizens United” decision that affirmed the legality of treating corporations as persons. Using JPMorgan Chase as an example, Donald J. Munro of the University of Michigan focuses on how certain human moral values and some corporate behaviors are incompatible. You can follow the whole series here

In this six-part series, Donald J. Munro of the University of Michigan examines the Supreme Court’s 2010 “Citizens United” decision using JPMorgan Chase as an example.

In this six-part series, Donald J. Munro of the University of Michigan examines the Supreme Court’s 2010 “Citizens United” decision using JPMorgan Chase as an example.

By Donald J. Munro

Foresight is not prognostication or fortune telling based on finding signs about the future. Rather, it refers to some awareness of the probable risks or advantages likely to follow as consequences of our actions. It is usually based on factual information about these risks and consequences.

This value derives from our primitive instinct to seek out survival resources and avoid predators and dangerous paths that can cause injury or death. In other words, experience and learning influence evolution; “…individuals that learn to predict during life also improve their food-finding ability during life.” It involves the ability to come up with creative responses to hunger and to avoiding danger.

Experience results in learning or new knowledge, as when we make or revise choices, based on earlier instances of successful or unsuccessful choices. At the cellular level, existing synapses are strengthened by the outcomes of choices, as when the brain causes dopamine to flag certain neurons. So being able to learn and revise choices helps us to cultivate foresight.

Biological basis of foresight

As Antonio Damasio put it, “Eventually, in a fruitful combination with past memories, imagination, and reasoning, feelings led to the emergence of foresight and the possibility of creating novel, non-stereotypical responses” (Antonio Damasio, “Looking for Spinoza,” p. 80). Steven Pinker described the brain function this way: “The faculties underlying empathy, foresight, and self-respect are information-processing systems that accept input and commandeer other parts of the brain and body” (in “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature,” p. 166).

Foresight may also involve predictions of how the law or fellow citizens will respond to our choices, as in the expectation of rewards or punishments. In the case of corporations, if they care about human moral values, foresight would go beyond the factors predicting financial profit/loss. It would also include predictions about impact on people’s health and well-being, on their families and communities, and on their self-respect.

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